Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

by

George Saunders

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Lincoln in the Bardo: Chapter 50-52 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Knowing Willie isn’t “in some bright place, free of suffering” or “resplendent in a new mode of being,” Vollman and Bevins find themselves saddened by Lincoln’s hopes for his son. As such, they try to convince the man to return to Willie. After all, they want Willie to move on from this place, and so does his father. Vollman, for his part, believes it’s possible to affect people by entering them and concentrating on a certain idea, but Bevins isn’t so sure. “There has historically been some confusion around this issue,” Vollman admits once again, telling a story in which he, Bevins, the Reverend, and several other souls inspired a young bickering couple to retreat behind a stone home and make love while they watched. Later, the couple married. Still, Bevins is hesitant to influence Lincoln, but Vollman urges him along by pointing out that it won’t hurt to try.
Lincoln’s newfound acceptance of life’s impermanence encourages Vollman and Bevins, who think this mindset would help Willie understand that he must leave this transitional realm. However, in order to make this happen, they’ll need to somehow influence Lincoln, thereby finding a way to actually interact with the living world.
Themes
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
Loss Theme Icon